Saturday, 26 March 2011

26.03. More rain please!

Hi, you know back in January, when I was complaining that it was raining and raining and never seemed to stop? Well...ehhh, I could do with a bit of rain now, like right now, as today! My garden is so dry at the moment, I actually had to drag the garden hose out and water the whole garden! In March! I know we will get some rainy days in April, we always do, but my garden couldn’t wait for that, there isn’t forecasted any rain until next Saturday, a week from today, and that’s only showers so might not amount to much after all. I pay for every litre of water I use, so I would of course much rather have the free stuff from above – and also, the free rain water doesn’t involve any work so I prefer it for that reason too :-)

But my garden could not wait for the rain any longer so today I had no alternative but to do some watering. I used the opportunity to do the first of many applications of my choices of “weapons of pest destructions”; 3 different types of pest control carefully selected for the types of pests I have had in the past. That doesn’t mean I won’t have to add to the list of course; there has been new visitors over the years which I have had to learn how to deal with, but fortunately many of the pests can be controlled with the same type of remedies. Please note the word “controlled”...as pest control has no resemblance with pest extermination! Not in a garden. As soon as you have got rid of something, the same pest flies or crawls over from a neighbouring garden and the whole cycle starts again! Very funny. But regular spraying can keep things at bay, most things at least. The only pest in my garden there is no pest control for is the lily beetle. There is absolutely nothing on the market that controls it, and the birds don’t seem overly keen on adding the beetle to their menu either, so they don’t seem to have any predators. That could be due to that the lily beetle often will make a squeaking noise when captured, known as stridulation, used to startle birds or other predators. Actually, the lily beetle was introduced to the UK through the importation of bulb plants around 1945 and is not native to the UK at all. It is indigenous to parts of Europe and Asia, but after a slow start here it is now an invasive alien insect in the United Kingdom. I have around 150 lilies and another 50 seedlings on the way – that’s a lot of plants to patrol every day! Because that is in fact the only way to control the lily beetle. To look at every lily plant and pick off every beetle before they have a chance to mate and lay eggs. And how do I get rid of the beetles? Well, it’s no good throwing them over the fence to one of the neighbours, none of them have lilies, and lilies are the only thing these creatures eat so you can be sure they will fly back for the next meal in a jiffy! So what do I do? I lay them down on the concrete path, one at the time, and stamp on them. Yeahh....cruel, but effective! And if any of these little blighters have managed to find another one to procreate, I will have to pick off each and every one of their slimy little babies too, which they incidentally spread around on the lily leaves as close to the flower bud as possibly so that when the larvae hatch they will have a meal ready for them waiting! Ugh! But I have set myself a challenge when it comes to lily beetles; I would like to try to record their squeaking sound! Not sure if I manage to do it, but I will give it a go. It is apparently the only beetle that makes a warning sound when handled that humans can hear. If I succeed I will post it here so you can hear it too, along with a photo of one :-)

It’s been a colder day today, we had 20 degrees yesterday and 12 today; that’s a significant drop, but typical for this time of year. My garden is coming along nicely though so I have taken some photos today too. This first one is of a nice, rather unassuming plant called Skimmia japonica. I have posted pictures of the other one I have earlier, with red berries, but this is what it looks like in flower. I particularly like this plant because it is evergreen, so it is one of the plants in my garden that keep my garden looking green all year round.

The daffodils are still looking great, here is a photo after I had done the watering, a nice shot with water droplets. This autumn I think I will dig up some of the bulbs and replace them with new; quite a few bulbs have only produced leaves and no flower this year. I don’t know whether that is because the winter has been particularly cold, or because the bulbs are coming to an end of their life. They don’t seem to spread in my garden, possibly because I don’t use much money on fertilisers; I tend to leave that out and hope the plants can manage on their own. Those who don’t get replaced by different plants that are less demanding!

I promised you another photo of the hyacinths once the purples were fully out, so here it comes. It looks gorgeous and smells even better. The scent is just heavenly, and every time I pass this tub I get a whiff of the scent like a spray of a really expensive perfume :-) Incidentally, most of the undergrowth I am digging up from the garden next door is the cousin of the hyacinth, the common bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, a terribly invasive bulbous perennial plant. The next door garden has been undisturbed for a number of years and the bluebells have been allowed to spread profusely. The only way to remove them is to dig each and every bulb up, a slow process as the bulbs are pretty deep in the ground. Simply cutting off the foliage would not help at all, as they would just come up again next year.


I also would like to show you the camellia as it was earlier today, isn’t it gorgeous?! There is some frost damage from the last few nights, but it looks pretty good anyway with hundreds and hundreds of flowers. Soon it will start dropping petals and the process of clearing the path and the grass begins... that’s the only drawback with having a camellia. I wonder when someone will come up with a camellia that is able to shed their flowers one flower at the time rather than petal by petal! Would have been much easier to clear up under it :-)

And what about my project next door? Here is a photo from today, it’s coming along nicely, isn’t it? It is a slow process, but for every day I am working here I do see progress. As you can see to the right in this picture, most of what is left to pull up is those dreaded bluebells. It is strangely therapeutic though, sitting there on my stool pulling up weeds! OK, probably not as rewarding as planting flowers, but that will come too, when the whole garden is cleared. I will keep you updated with the progress :-)

I think that’s it for today folks, I am off to have dinner and tonight’s dose of TV entertainment. Till next time, take care.

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